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OSSTF holding students hostage in teacher dispute

High school students are being disproportionately affected by the conflict between the Ontario Secondary School Teachers’ Federation (OSSTF) and the Ontario government. OSSTF mandated its members to withdraw from extracurricular activities in early December. Given that the Liberals have imposed contracts under Bill 115 before students return to school on Monday, the lack of extracurricular activities will certainly continue.What is most worrying about the conflict is the way in which students are being used as pawns by the OSSTF to advance and promote a political message. The OSSTF has released two TV advertisements, one featuring students ready to attend band with musical instruments in hand, and one with a group of basketball players. The ads are short, and a female voice narrates: “there is only one thing standing between public high school students and their extracurricular activities. Fight Bill 115.”This leads one to conclude that it is the government preventing students from participating in extracurricular activities. No other information is presented and the ad clearly aims to generate favourable public perception for the OSSTF and antagonize the government’s position.It is conveniently glossed over that the extracurricular ban came from the top brass at OSSTF.Students’ anger over the loss of extracurricular activities should not be directed towards the government, as the ad suggests. Nor should it be directed against individual teachers, who have very little leeway to deviate from the orders issued by the union. An Ottawa-area teacher did just this and continued to lead extracurricular activities in class. According to her, she was phoned and threatened by a union official with a fine. The OSSTF also posts the information of those who violate its orders in its publicly accessible newsletter, according to its vice-president. With the union putting such severe restrictions on its members, it is no surprise that very… Read More

Canadian Federation of Students: Solidarity through Litigation?

The Canadian Federation of Students (CFS), a national organization composed of campus student unions, purports to organize students on a "democratic, co-operative basis." When Guelph students wanted to hold a referendum to exit the CFS, they served the CFS with a petition asking for a referendum to be held to decertify. However, the CFS refused to schedule a referendum. Guelph's Central Student Association (CSA) took the CFS to court, and an Ontario lower court trial judge granted the referendum. Then 73.5 per cent of Guelph students voted to exit the CFS. The CFS alleges the results were not reliable.Even after Guelph students overwhelmingly expressed a desire to leave, the CFS continued to challenge the democratic vote in court. They argued that signatures were not verified for the initial referendum request. The Ontario Court of Appeal judge granted the request, and remitted the matter to another trial court judge on a technicality. The appeal was granted because the original judge did not provide written reasoning for his decision.The trial court judge, during the hearing on awarding costs, stated that “many people were to be financially and otherwise affected by the outcome.”The judge is correct about financial motivation. According to the University of Guelph, the CFS made over $230,000 per year from Guelph student fees alone. Guelph’s CSA, has, up until this point, been fighting the decision in court. The legal proceedings have cost Guelph students over $400,000.The CFS has a long history of legal disputes. In 2011, the CFS-BC Executive refused to allow a member from Kwantlen University’s student union to serve as a representative on the CFS-BC, which is a provincial "affiliate" of the national CFS organization, because he had taken part in a campaign to withdraw Kwantlen from the CFS. The BC Court of Appeal found that the CFS-BC “was not entitled to go further and determine whether it considered him to… Read More

Education – Getting it right

Canada doesn’t have a federal ministry of education. Unlike all other civilized countries, we allow provinces to make a hash of our people’s future.More and more, we hear complaints from employers, who say that the pool of workers is inadequate in terms of skills and qualifications, and from those seeking jobs, many of whom are losing hope.One thing we must accept is that the job market isn’t our grandparents’ place anymore. Steady, life-time employment (particularly with the same company) is a thing of the past. Increasingly, people are working from contract to contract, and paycheck to paycheck.But the “system” hasn’t changed. Our schools and universities still train students on the basis of curricula that expired last century. A university degree is still seen as the non plus ultra, especially by parents who want nothing but the best for their offspring. Those who pursue a trade are looked down upon as being inferior.Plumbers and so many other tradespeople can earn, in fact, more money than many lawyers, doctors and so-called “white-collar workers”. They may not have a salad of letters following their names, but “just” a simple certificate that shows that they’re good with their hands and know how to apply this or that tool. But many of them are better prepared for tomorrow’s world than, say, the newest graduate in Women’s Studies.A lot needs to be changed. Universities must start customizing their programs and courses to reflect what the market needs and can absorb. This is not to say that liberal arts ought to be axed – on the contrary, only a good grounding in the liberal arts will teach you how to think for yourself and absorb new skills and knowledge at lightning speed. In fact, the liberal arts matter more today than ever before in the history of… Read More

“Screw You, Old Man”: A Report Card on Contemporary Politicians

Young people are the future. We’re entitled to a university education. Politicians can’t be trusted, unless they tell us that politicians can’t be trusted. The world is there for the taking. And government needs to live for today instead of worry about tomorrow. We’re young, we’re energetic, and we love cheap propaganda, apparently. That’s what it’s like to be a 20-something Canadian. For as long as we’ve been listening, we’ve been hearing gray-haired old folks tell us about the benefits of this, the hope of that, and the power of our hobbies (did you hear about the time Twitter defeated 4 dictators before being distracted by #AwkwardSexMoments?). We’re young. We’re simple. Just pat us on the head, ask for our energy and our votes, and then move on to the real issues only in private conversations with your elder pals. Welcome to 21st century politics in Canada. Canadian politicians are some of the worst propagandists of our age. Policy is supplanted by platitude. Insight has been replaced by the jab. Vision is simply an explanation of why the other guy is a jerk. Involvement is the retweet of cheap sloganeering. Younger Canadians are being shortchanged and subjectated by a generation of politicians which is utterly devoid of direction. If you’re young, the contemporary politician has you figured out. You’d rather have a student loan than a job after graduation. You’d rather have your tuition lowered than your income raised. You’d rather hear how awesome you are than hear about the challenges of obtaining meaningful employment post-graduation. You’d rather have free pizza than have a serious discussion about the liberties and liabilities of life in tomorrow’s Canada. We are the young, dumb, and easily distracted youth Canadian politicians love to mess with. And they have been.Successive parliaments have spent the nation into an unsavory level of… Read More

Aftermath of the Maple Spring

A year ago, Québec’s student population started the Maple Spring, which led to the election of a new party in power. Jean Charest’s Québec Liberal Party (PLQ) lost against Pauline Marois’s Parti Québecois (PQ). Marois promised to freeze the tuition that Charest wanted to increase by $1,625 over five years. The Maple Spring led to major strikes in many colleges and universities all over the province of Québec.The Marois government wants to index the tuition fees of Québec universities. The student population feels betrayed as they voted for her party, who promised to freeze the tuition. Back in 1996, the PQ had cut $400 million in education and had raised the possibility of tuition increase.The Education Summit was held at l’Arsenal in Montreal on February 25th and 26th.Four themes were discussed in these two days, which many believed was too little time.The quality of higher education with agreements on challenges educational institutions face.The access and participation in higher education by looking at factors standing in the way of college or university enrollment.The governance and funding of universities by determining key elements that affect them.The contribution of educational institutions and of research to Québec’s overall development to define the progress of critical thinking, ethics, innovation and socioeconomic growth in Québec.Over 350 people attended the summit, including Premier Pauline Marois and Minister of Higher Education, Research, Science and Technology Pierre Duchesne along with other members of the government. It also included more than 60 representative of higher education schools and civilians.The Association pour une solidarité sociale édutiande (ASSÉ), which includes over 70,000 members of different associations from Quebec’s colleges and universities, was not present at the summit and it believes that the event was a masquerade, and the government had already made their choices.ASSÉ sent a message on February 26th with a… Read More

Carleton University Protester Destroys Free Speech Wall

A free speech wall created and posted by the Carleton Students for Liberty has been swiftly destroyed by a career protester and seventh-year B.A. candidate upset at free speech.CSL (, a non-partisan campus association committed to advancing freedom through individual liberty, purchased and posted the free speech wall in the university’s main centre.Carleton University, already ranked one of the worst universities for upholding free speech by the 2012 Campus Freedom Index, has been delivered yet another embarrassing blow.You can see why the rogue student would tear down such a hateful poster.  It states things like “end the welfare state” and “legalize freedom” and “I love the CFS” and “education is not a right.”That’s not to suggest the language was all rosy and cheerful either.  There were comments posted about abortion, gay rights, Israeli “apartheid,” and demanding “equality for all.”And that’s entirely the point.  Free speech doesn’t have to be politically correct or cheerful.  In many instances, free speech is blunt and can be abrasive.  Some people might not “like” to see “Queers are awesome” or “I love my clitoris” or “I love queers and eating pussy!” shoved in their face while walking to or from class, but free speech isn’t about what one would “like” to see on a poster.But as if it wasn’t disgusting enough to commit such vile acts of vandalism, discrimination, destruction of property, and mischief, the petty criminal didn’t stop there: he openly bragged about it on Facebook.He claimed his act of “forceful resistance” was in response to that “meaningless platitude” and “abstract ideal” known as free speech.Most ironically of all, Smith is a gay rights advocate, and a noisy one at that.  He regularly takes advantage of his right to free speech to write in the Charlatan or shout a few chants through a bullhorn… Read More
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